Do You Know Your Numbers?

We live in a world where there are numbers all around us, all the time. Addresses, phone numbers, temperatures, and so on. Because numbers can represent so many things, it’s often hard to keep it all straight. Some numbers are important like a loved-one’s birthday or an anniversary, yet some numbers may only stay in our brain for a few seconds and then it becomes forgotten.

Next month is February and is often referred to as Healthy Heart Month. Four Corners Health Department would like to urge everyone to learn their heart numbers. What we mean by this is knowing your blood pressure and what the numbers say about your heart health. Your blood pressure is a set of numbers that can save your life.

High blood pressure can cause severe health concerns including heart disease or strokes. The first thing you can do to prevent heart disease or strokes is to have your blood pressure tested. Then it is important to understand what those numbers mean. According to the American Heart Association, understanding your blood pressure numbers is the key to controlling high blood pressure.

Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers. The top number is what the doctor or nurse may call the systolic number. This number tells you how much pressure your blood is pushing against your artery walls when the heart beats. The bottom number is called the diastolic number. This number shows how much pressure your blood is pushing against your artery walls while the heart is resting between beats.

Usually, the top number is given the most attention because it can be a good sign of heart disease. Sometimes this number can rise slowly as people age because of the increasing stiffness of large arteries. A result of high blood pressure must be confirmed with a medical professional. A doctor should also check for any unusually low blood pressure readings.

The table below shows how to understand what your numbers mean.

Blood Pressure

mm Hg (upper #)

mm Hg (lower #)

Normal:  Congratulations on having blood pressure numbers that are within the normal (optimal) range of less than 120/80 mm Hg. Keep up the good work and stick with heart-healthy habits like following a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.

less than 120


less than 80

Prehypertension (early stage high blood pressure):
Prehypertension is when blood pressure is usually ranging from 120-139/80-89 mm Hg. People with prehypertension are likely to develop high blood pressure unless steps are taken to control it.

120 – 139


80 – 89

High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 1:  
Hypertension Stage 1 is when blood pressure is usually ranging from 140-159/90-99 mm Hg. At this stage of high blood pressure, doctors are likely to suggest lifestyle changes and may consider adding blood pressure medication.

140 – 159


90 – 99

High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 2:  
Hypertension Stage 2 is when blood pressure is consistently ranging at levels greater than 160/100 mm Hg. At this stage of high blood pressure, doctors are likely to order a combination of blood pressure medications along with lifestyle changes.

160 or higher


100 or higher

Hypertensive Crisis
(Emergency care needed):  
This is when high blood pressure requires emergency medical attention. If your blood pressure is higher than 180/110 mm Hg and you are NOT experiencing symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, changes in vision or difficulty speaking, wait about five minutes and take it again. If the reading is still at or above that level, you should CALL 9-1-1 and get help immediately.

Higher than 180


Higher than 110

So, in a world where there are countless numbers with so many meanings to them, Four Corners Health Department urges you to take some time to get your blood pressure taken and “Know Your Numbers.” We hope you have a happy healthy Heart Month.

For more information on Knowing Your Numbers, visit the American Heart Association website at or call Four Corners Health Department at (402) 362-2621 or toll free 877-337-3573. Or send email to Visit our new website at